4.6-billion-year-old meteorite is the oldest volcanic rock ever discovered

4.6-billion-year-old meteorite is the oldest volcanic rock ever found

That is the oldest chunk of volcanic rock ever unearthed

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum/Darryl Pitt

The oldest volcanic rock now we have ever found could assist us perceive the constructing blocks of planets. The meteorite, which was found within the Sahara desert in 2020, dates from simply 2 million years after the formation of the photo voltaic system – making it greater than 1,000,000 years older than the earlier record-holder.

“I’ve been engaged on meteorites for greater than 20 years now, and that is probably probably the most implausible new meteorite I’ve ever seen,” says Jean-Alix Barrat on the College of Western Brittany in France. When he and his colleagues analysed the meteorite, known as Erg Chech 002 or EC 002, they discovered that it was not like another meteorite now we have ever positioned.


It’s a sort of rock known as andesite that, on Earth, is discovered principally in subduction zones – areas the place tectonic plates have collided and one has been pushed beneath the opposite – and infrequently in meteorites. Many of the meteorites found on Earth are manufactured from one other type of volcanic rock known as basalt. Evaluation of the chemical make-up of the brand new meteorite confirmed that it was as soon as molten, and solidified almost 4.6 billion years in the past.

This implies it was most likely a part of the crust of an historic protoplanet that broke up early within the photo voltaic system’s previous. No identified asteroid seems like EC 002, which signifies that just about none of those relics nonetheless exist: almost all of them have both crashed collectively to type planets or been smashed to bits.

“Whenever you go near the start of the photo voltaic system, it’s an increasing number of sophisticated to get samples,” says Barrat. “We most likely won’t discover one other pattern older than this one.”

The researchers’ evaluation confirmed that it took the magma that makes up EC 002 not less than 100,000 years to chill and solidify after it melted, which can point out that it was unusually viscous. Additional examine of this artefact from the early photo voltaic system may assist us perceive how the planets, together with Earth, fashioned.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2026129118

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